Petition calls for change of govt. vote

Question proposes directly elected Manalapan mayor


Staff Writer

A petition that proposes a change in Manalapan’s form of government is being prepared for submission to the municipal clerk, according to Joseph Locricchio.

Locricchio, a Republican, is a member of the Township Committee. He is also a member of the group that organized the change of government petition drive.

The other people who helped to organize the petition drive are Republican Town-ship Committeeman Andrew Lucas and residents Debora Gurrieri, Francine Cedeno and Kalman Budai Jr.

Once submitted, the petition will have to be certified by township clerk Rose Ann Weeden, who in turn will have 120 days to have a question prepared for a public ballot, according to Locricchio.

Under Manalapan’s existing Township Committee form of government, residents elect five people to serve three-year terms of office. Each January, those five committee members select one person from among themselves to serve as mayor for the year. The mayor has no additional powers.

The change of government question will ask residents if they want to switch to a mayor-council form of government in which the mayor is directly elected by voters.

Locricchio described the proposed form of government as an equal mayor and council, not a strong mayor and weak council like Marlboro has. The mayor would be elected for a four-year term under the proposal. The five-member council would serve staggered terms.

He said that in order to place the change of government question on the ballot, the committee needs about 5,000 signatures from Manalapan registered voters (20 percent of the town’s 23,000 registered voters). Locricchio said the group is “almost there” in securing the needed number of signatures.

Locricchio, who has lived in Manalapan for almost seven years, said he has gotten behind a change of government movement because he believes the Township Committee form of government Manalapan has is not serving the population adequately.

“It might have worked when the population was 14,000, but with the population almost 40,000 now, it is not working,” he said.

Locricchio and Cedeno said they believe residents should directly elect a mayor and not leave it to the five members of the Township Committee to make the choice from among themselves.

Cedeno, from Staten Island, N.Y., has lived in Manalapan for almost four years. She said she was shocked to learn that voters do not directly elect a mayor and said she knows many residents whose reaction to the information was the same as hers.

Both said enlightening residents to the present mayoral selection process under Manalapan’s form of government is what made getting the change of government petition signed an easy task.

“We [the committee] want the change because we should have the right to vote for mayor,” Cedeno said. “Coming from New York, we always had the right to vote for mayor.”

Cedeno said that with a directly elected mayor, “We would all get the opportunity to know who our mayor is.”